Concert Review: Bad Religion, Rochester, NY

“Age of Unreason Tour 2019”

Bad Religion, The Lawrence Arms
Tuesday, August 6h, 2019
Anthology, Rochester, NY

Our score: 5 out of 5 stars

Bad Religion made a stop at Anthology in Rochester, NY on August 6th as part of the bands current “Age of Unreason” tour.  Along with the elder statesmen of punk were special guest The Lawrence Arms. Despite a thirty year lapse since the bands last performance in the Flour City both groups brought their A game to the sold out crowd who packed the gills of the intimate venue on a warm Tuesday night.

Epitaph label mates The Lawrence Arms opened the evening’s festivities promptly at 8pm and as the venue quickly filled to capacity the three piece group from Chicago, IL held court treating fans to their windy city brand of grit infused punk rock. Bassist/vocalist Brendan Kelly jokingly traded barbs with the audience between songs and at one point noted that this was the bands first time performing in Rochester. The band sounded great as it played songs from it six album catalog including a handful from their most recent release 2014’s “Metropole” before leaving the stage to a chant of one more song from the ever growing crowd.

After a somewhat timely change over Bad Religion would take to the stage basked in powerful, dark blue lighting. The band opened their set with the edgy “Them and Us” from the 1996 album “The Grey Race”. Vocalist Greg Graffin and the rest of the band consisting of Jay Bentley, Brian Baker, Mike Dimkich and drummer Jamie Miller blasted through a 27 song set full of classic BR songs like “Stranger Than Fiction”, “Atomic Garden”, Suffer” and “21st Century (Digital Boy)” and newer songs like “Chaos From Within”, “My Sanity” and “Do The Paranoid Style” all of which are from the bands recently released studio album “Age of Unreason”.

Bad Religion certainly made up for their long absence in Rochester as the bands high energy 27 song set fed the need of both long time fans and fellow new comers (some of whom were as young as 12 years old). Anthology’s medium sized venue played a near perfect host for the humble punk veterans who seemed to really appreciate the vibe and energy they received in return for their stellar performance. Bad Religion will be on tour in the States through October so if the band is coming to your area you owe it to yourself to be there!

Bad Religion Set List:

1.) Them and us

2.) End of History

3.) Fuck You

4.) Stranger Than Fiction

5.) The Dichotomy

6.) Recipe for Hate

7.) Chaos From Within

8.) Los Angeles Is Burning

9.) The Handshake

10.) My Sanity

11.) Atomic Garden

12.) Lose Your Head

13.) Suffer

14.) No Control

15.) Against the Grain

16.) Skyscraper

17.) Anesthesia

18.) I Want to Conquer the World

19.) 21st Century (Digital Boy)

20.) Generator

21.) The New Dark Ages

22.) You

23.) Do The Paranoid Style

24.) Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell

25.) Sorrow

Encore

26.) Infected

27.) American Jesus

Concert Review: “Summer Slaughter” Syracuse, NY

“2019 Summer Slaughter”

Cattle Decapitation, Carnifex, The Faceless, Rivers of Nihil, Nekrogoblikon, Lorna Shore, Brand of Sacrifice
Friday, July 26th, 2018
The Westcott Theater, Syracuse, NY

Our score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The 13th annual Summer Slaughter tour made a stop at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY on July 26th as part of the tours 23 stop run. Being billed as “the most extreme tour of the year” we were anxious to see if this year’s package which is headlined by Cattle Decapitation, Carnifex, The Faceless and Rivers of Nihil could deliver an experience worthy of the aforementioned moniker.

As the vintage doors of the Westcott Theater came squeaking open on fairly normal Upstate, NY summer afternoon something stuck out amidst the horde of black t-shirt wearing metal heads. No it was not the over the top graphics or the hard to read fonts which adorned said shirts instead it was a unique sense of camaraderie that seemed to occur between both bands and fans as they mixed and mingled cohesively through out the day long event which made for a nice friendly gathering of metal lovers.

Opening up the tour billing was Brand of Sacrifice who performed a spattering of tracks from their most recent album “God Hand” to the incoming crowd. New Jersey’s Lorna Shore would follow promptly not allowing the energy dip too low with a high impact thirty minute set. Goblin-Metal forefathers Nekrogoblikon would hit the stage next complete with the bands loveable mascot John Goblikon who leaped and bounded across the stage as the band shredded through songs like “We Need a Gimmick”, “Dressed As Goblins”  and  “Powercore”.  The saxophone laden River of Nihil was up next performing songs from their latest offering “Where Owls Know My Name” which filled the dank theater with jazz infused metal. The Faceless would be up next banging out a somewhat lack luster set which featured very little movement from the band themselves. Carnifex took the stage next and singlehandedly brought the energy back and to a whole new level. Makeup clad front man Scott Ian Lewis worked the stage like a maniacal mad man while the rest of the band did their duty of laying down a thunderous, circle pit ensuing dirge that commanded attendees attention. Closing out the 8 plus hour day was tour headliner Cattle Decapitation who despite the dwindling crowd size hit the stage running blasting through songs like “The Prophets of Lost”, “Times Cruel Curtain” and “Pacific Grim” before leaving the stage at a prompt 11 pm.

With our ears ringing and our brains rattled we made our way out of the venue while trying to process just what our senses were put through over the course of the day. What we were able to piece together is this. Summer Slaughter is not for the faint of heart or for the casual death/extreme metal listener and, this tour could very well be as the banner boast’s the most “Extreme” musical offering this summer. With the tour running through mid August you still have time to catch a show and experience this for yourself, If you dare.

Concert Review: Rockstar Disrupt Festival, Syracuse, NY

Rockstar Disrupt Festival 2019

Thrice, The Used, Circa Survive, The Story So Far, Atreyu

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, Syracuse, NY

Our score 3 out of 5 stars

The Rockstar Disrupt Festival made a stop in Syracuse, NY on July 2nd as part of the tours inaugural run featuring a variety of musical acts including Hyro the Hero, Andy Black, The Used and Thrice. Despite the event starting off under questionable skies it didn’t stop the bands or fans from giving their all over the course of the 7 plus hour event.  

Kicking of the day on the Festival Stage was the Texas based Hyro the Hero who performed a handful of songs of their latest album “Flagged Channel”. Though fans were still filling in the sprawling lake side venue the bands high energy and unique style of rap infused metal quickly grabbed people’s attention and set the stage perfectly for the day’s festivities. After checking out the various merchandise booths which were placed around the venue grounds we made another stop at the Festival stage where we took in performances by Memphis May Fire, Four Year Strong and Andy Black. All of which put on solid sets despite the muggy afternoon conditions. Sleeping with Sirens closed out the Festival stage lineup however it was hard to focus given the lineup which was about to be performing on the Main Stage. Veteran metal act Atreyu opened up the stage performing songs from their various albums including “Ex’s and Oh’s”, “Bleeding Mascara” and their cover of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”. The band sounded great and really got the crowd going again after a brief lull during stage changes caused the energy to dip. The Story So Far and Circa Survive would follow both turning in note worthy performances that had large portions of the audience dancing and singing along from beginning to end. The Used were up next performing a spattering of songs from their career including “Take It Away” “The Taste of Ink” and “Buried Myself Alive. Front-man Bert McCracken and company even included a cover of the Oasis song “Wonderwall” which made us question if a majority of the crowd were even alive when that song first debuted? Thrice would close out the night with an eleven song set including songs “The Artist in the Ambulance”, “In Exile” and “Black Honey” before closing out the evening with “The Earth Will Shake” from the bands 2005 album “Vheissu”.  Though the band members were all fairly stationary throughout the performance the crowd did not seem to mind as they loudly sang along to front-man Dustin Kensrues lyrics.

For those looking to fill the void left by the Warped Tour whose last full summer run was in 2018, Rockstar Disrupt Festival could be just! Yes the festival is much smaller and not hitting as many cities as its predecessor however the artist lineup is on par as are the various vendors and pop-ups. Probably the biggest selling point for us was the fact that you could actually see all the acts on the bill if you chose to. Having only two stages made for a much less stressful day and ensured you could everything. This feature alone makes the tour stand out above others with a similar design. Sure the tour has to contend with some growing pains and the various first year hiccups however with those things aside if you are looking for a full day of diverse music where you can actually see everything then we highly recommend the Rockstar Disrupt Festival.

Festival Stage:

Sleeping With Sirens

Andy Black

Four Year Strong

Memphis May Fire

Trophy Eyes

Juliet Simms

Hyro The Hero

Main Stage:

Thrice

The Used

Circa Survive

The Story So Far

Atreyu

Concert Review: “Generation Axe” Rochester, NY

“Generation Axe”
Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Yngvie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, Tosin Abasi,
Saturday, December 1st, 2018
Kodak Performing Arts Center, Rochester, NY

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Generation Axe” made a stop in the flour city on December 1st as part of the super group’s current US tour. Fresh off a successful tour of Asia the guitar dominant tour featuring Steve Vai, Yngvie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi is total emersion in to all things guitar. From head spinning solo performances to face melting group jams “Generation Axe” packs a punch like no other.

Given the reputation of the five guitarists who make up “Generation Axe” going in you can sort of guess what you are going to be in for however, it isn’t until you see the thirty plus Marshall amplifiers and various other gear that adorns the stage does it really sink in that “this might get loud”! From the opening notes of the Focus song “Hocus Pocus” (which featured all five talents shredding out of the gate) to the closing notes of Deep Purples “Burn” some three and a half hours later the near capacity crowd which filled the Kodak centers multi level venue were left slack jawed the near entire time. The performance moved rather smoothly as each of the five featured guitarists performed some of their more notable material before switching off with one of the other players. Animals As Leaders, Tosin Abasi opened the solo portion of the night with a furry of slap-tastic notes and uniquely timed transitions setting the stage nicely with songs from his bands catalog such as “Woven Web” and the popular “Physical Education”. Though he may have been the lesser known of the five Abasi let his music and technique speak earning him an impressive response from the audience.

Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt would take the stage next opening with the always fun to sing along to “Get The Funk Out”. Nuno interacted sporadically with crowd and at one point teased them with the opening of the ballad “More Than Word” which he quickly stopped and joked that he would not be playing that tonight. Probably the most impressive of Bettencourt’s session was the piece “Extreme Melody” which was taken from a You Tube fan compilation consisting of all of his solos. Before leaving the stage Nuno invited the bearded berserker Zakk Wylde up to play on “Sidewayst” which then gave way to the Ozzy Osbourne/Black Label Society guitarists own solo portion. Wylde’s set consisted mostly of Black Sabbath songs such as “NIB” and “War Pigs” before being closed out with an amazing rendition of Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues”. Wylde’s set was pure energy and crowd interaction as the golden haired front-man left the stage several times to jam in the audience and at one point even made his way to the over-hanging balcony to jam for the higher up fans. Steve Vai (the man behind Generation Axe) would follow taking the stage with a lighted guitar to the tune of “There’s a Fire in Here”. Vai’s solo portion was quite brief in that it only consisted of three songs however the man with six fingers delivered tenfold.

Closing out the solo portions of the night was “The Maestro” Yngvie Malmsteen. Doused in a glow of red the long haired leather clad shredder from Sweden took listeners on a neo-classical voyage courtesy of his signature fender Stratocasters and wall of Marshall amps. From “Into Valhalla”, “Apreggio From Hell” and, “Paganini’s 4th Adagio” Malmsteen kept his foot on the gas and did not let up one bit. The night ended with a handful of songs featuring the entire line up. Easily my favorite from the three was the group’s all guitar rendition of the Queen track “Bohemian Rhapsody” complete with falsetto breakdowns. This alone made the ticket worth the price of admission. The night was closed out by Deep Purples “Burn” featuring Yngvie on vocals and I have to say it was nice to hear something from Purple’s catalog other than “Highway Star” or “Smoke on the Water”

“Generation Axe” is a great night of guitar playing and music. Vary rarely do you get to see two of these performers in the same place at the same time let alone all five. Equally impressive is the groups backing band consisting of Bassist Pete Griffin, Keyboardist Nick Marinovich and drummer JP Bouvet. The band performed a wide range of complex material the entire night never missing a beat and gave the five virtuoso guitarists the perfect foundation to build on. If “Generation Axe” is coming to your town get you and/or that loved one tickets to the show as you won’t be disappointed.

Set List:
1.) Hocus Pocus (Full Group)
2. Tempting Time (TA)
3.) Woven Web (TA)
4.) Physical Education (TA)
5.) Get The Funk Out (NB)
6.) Midnite Express (NB)
7.) Extreme Melody (NB)
8.) Sidewayst (NB/ZW)
9.) Into the Void (ZW)
10.) NIB (ZW)
11.) War Pigs (ZW)
12.) Still Got the Blues (ZW)
13.) There’s a Fire in Here (SV)
14.) The Animal (SV)
15.) For the Love of God (SV)
16.) Into Valhalla (YM)
17.) Baroque & Roll (YM)
18.) From A Thousand Cuts (YM)
19.) Apreggio From Hell (YM)
20.) Far Beyond the Sun (YM)
21.) Badlinere (YM)
22.) Paganini’s 4th Adagio (YM)
23.) Trilogy Suite Op 5 (YM)
24.) Black Star (YM)
25.) The Star-Spangled Banner (YM)
26.) Frankenstein (Full Group)
27.) Bohemian Rhapsody (Full Group)
28.) Burn (Full Group)

Concert Review: Descendents, Buffalo, NY

2018 Tourage
Descendents, A Wilhelm Scream, Pavers
Friday, August 3rd, 2018
River Works, Buffalo, NY

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

One of the biggest names in punk rock the Descendents kicked off another leg of their ongoing “2018 Tourage” tour on August 3rd at the River Works Complex in Buffalo, NY, The tour which first kicked off in April of this year and has the So-Cal punkers playing all around the US and various other countries through December. Also on the bill for the evening was the Massachusetts based A Wilhelm Scream and the Scott Reynolds (ALL) fronted Pavers.

Having never had the chance to see the Descendents before I jumped on the opportunity when it was announced they would kick off a new leg of their current “Tourage” tour in nearby Buffalo. The bands famous Milo logo adorned my skateboard growing up so it was great to finally see a band I had been following for so long. Opening up the show was former ALL front-man Scott Reynolds recently re-formed group the Pavers. Though the band had a couple rough spots during their thirty minute set Reynolds kept things moving like the seasoned veteran he is forging forward with a smile on his face which showed the growing crowd he and his band mates were there to have fun doing what they love performing tracks from the groups various albums. With little time between sets and down one member due to a missed flight A Wilhelm Scream hit the stage with a burst of energy that instantly ignited the multi-generational crowd. Vocalist Nuno Pereira worked the stage left, right and up and down for that matter as the front-man was in constant motion adding to the bands fast paced, frantic approach. Even if the band was starting out one in the hole you would have never know as the band sounded great and were extremely tight as they helped bring the crowds energy to an even higher level.

Last but not least the Descendents took the stage helmed by founding member drummer Bill Stevenson and long time vocalist Milo Aukerman. For the next ninety minutes the band completely shredded over thirty five classic Descendents tunes including “Clean Sheets”, “Coffee Mug” and the guitar-tastic “Coolidge”. After the bands initial twenty nine song set fans were treated to a mini ALL reunion when former vocalist Scott Reynolds joined the Descendents (Minus Aukerman) for renditions of the ALL songs “Fool” and “Dot”. Needless to say this caused the crowd (myself included) to go absolutely nuts. After the brief reunion Aukerman would return performing probably my two favorite Descendents tracks “Bikeage” and “Good Good Things” along with a handful of other great tunes before taking their bows and waving goodbye.

It was clearly a night of nostalgia and fun as each of the bands on the tour brought their own unique brand of punk rock to the near capacity Buffalo venue. With the Descenedents history stretching back to 1977 it would be expected for them to lose a step or two however the band sounds just as fresh and powerful as they did at their inception. With the tour running the remainder of 2018 you owe it to yourself to catch one of the many shows scheduled on the “Tourage” run as it is the perfect setting for ALL generations of punk loving fans.

Set List:
1.) Suburban Home
2.) Everything Sux
3.) Hope
4.) On Paper
5.) I Wanna Be a Bear
6.) Rotting Out
7.) Victim of Me
8.) Get the Time
9.) I Like Food
10.) Shameless Halo
11.) My Dad Sucks
12.) Clean Sheets
13.) Testosterone
14.) Van
15.) Nothing With you
16.) I’m Not a Punk
17.) Silly Girl
18.) I Don’t Want to Grow Up
19.) Who We Are
20.) Weinerschnitzel
21.) Myage
22.) Without Love
23.) Global Probing
24.) Coffee Mug
25.) When I Get Old
26.) Coolidge
27.) Thank You
28.) Descendents
29.) Fool (ALL Cover)
30.) Dot (ALL Cover)
31.) ALL
32.) No! All!
33.) ‘Merican
34.) I’m the One
35.) Bikeage
36.) Smile
37.) Good Good Things
38.) Pep Talk

Concert Review: Weezer/Pixies, Syracuse, NY

Weezer, Pixies, The Wombats
Sunday, July 15th, 2018
St. Josephs Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Nerd rockers Weezer made a stop at the sprawling St. Josephs Health Amphitheater at Lakeview in Syracuse, NY on July 15 as part of the bands current North American tour with alt favorites Pixies. Also performing on the bill this evening were UK natives The Wombats. All three acts brought the near capacity crowd to their feet time and time again making for an energetically charged night by the lake.

The Wombats would take to the stage first performing a handful of songs of their recently released album “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life”. Though the band took little time to introduce themselves the 3 piece band from Liverpool, UK allowed the music to speak for them providing for a great start to the evening’s festivities. After a quick set change the Black Francis led Pixies would rumble to the stage where over the next 60 plus minutes they took the growing Syracuse crowd to musical school. The full length set was made up of a variety of tracks from the bands 6 albums and included such favorites as “Um Chagga Lagga”, “Wave of Mutilation” and “Gouge Away” before closing out the night with one of their more commercial tracks “Where Is My Mind?” and the shred-tastic “Vamos”. The band showcased a unique cohesiveness that only comes from having performed together for over thirty years making the set just a little more special. After an extensive set change and to the tune of the “Happy Days” intro the evening’s Co-headliner, Weezer was finally posed to take the stage. The bands set was a bombastic mix of hit after hit which was combined with corresponding stage set ups which paid homage to the bands history. Highlights of the night included songs like “Buddy Holly”, “Undone (the Sweater Song)” and acoustic versions of “Island in the Sun” and the A-Ha classic “Take On Me” all of which were performed solo by front-man River Cuomo atop a small moving boat that circled the rear of the amphitheater.

From open to close all the band on the bill brought their A games as each provided both a great listing and visual experience. With the Pixies and Weezer both performing full length sets you get practically two full scale rock shows for the price of one! What could be better than that? With the tour running through late August there are still plenty of chances to catch the band so, do not miss it!

Pixies Set List:
1.) Planet of Sound
2.) Magdalena 318
3.) Something Against You
4.) Isla de Encanta
5.) Um Chagga Lagga
6.) Wave of Mutilation
7.) Gouge Away
8.) Caribou
9.) Hey
10.) Mr. Grieves
11.) Bel Esprit
12.) Monkey Gone to Heaven
13.) Gigantic
14.) Cactus
15.) Classic Masher
16.) Crickity Jones
17.) River Euphrates
18.) Head Carrier
19.) No. 13 Baby
20.) All the Saints
21.) Here Comes Your Man
22.) Where Is My Mind?
23.) Vamos

Weezer Set List:
1.) Buddy Holly
2.) Beverly Hills
3.) Pork and Beans
4.) Undone- The Sweater Song
5.) Hash Pipe
6.) Perfect Situation
7.) My Name Is Jonas
8.) El Scorcho
9.) In the Garage
10.) Susanne
11.) Happy Together (Longview snippet)
12.) Keep Fishin’
13.) Island in the Sun
14.) Take On Me
15.) Burndt Jamb
16.) (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
17.) Feels Like Summer
18.) Africa
19.) The Good Life
20.) Say It Ain’t So w/ Paranoid outro

Concert Review: Styx, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Tesla. Syracuse, NY

Styx, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Tesla
Thursday, June 28th, 2018
St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Legends of Rock Styx, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and special guests Tesla made their stop in Syracuse, NY on June 28th at the beautiful (newly renamed) St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview. The venue was packed with fans from all walks of life, eager to hear their favorite hit songs. The beautiful summer night was the perfect background for a concert such as this.

Tesla opened with outstanding energy starting things off with the more recent track “I Wanna Live” however, It wasn’t long before vocalist Jeff Keith led sing-alongs to hits like “What You Give” and “Signs” Guitarists Frank Hannon and Dave Rude expertly wowed the audience later on in the set with the always pleasing “Love Song.” The band which is celebrating 30 years together are performing at the top of their game adding a nice shine to their already legendary status. Joan Jett and her band The Blackhearts would take the stage next where they performed a fairly stock set of Jett standards including “Bad Reputation”, “Cherry Bomb” and of course “I Love Rock n Roll”. Though the founding Runaways members set mostly consisted of older more well known tracks it was nice to see her the band include the song “Soulmates to Strangers” from Jett’s most recent album “Unvarnished”

The true dominating force on the night was hands down Styx as their set was nothing short of captivating. All eyes were glued to the veteran performers as they played hit after hit including the return of “Mr. Roboto” a song which had been missing from the Styx live show for sometime. As the band performed song after song each member brought their own signature flair to the nights performance. From scene-stealer, Lawrence Gowan’s spinning and dancing to James Young’s soaring guitars solos not to mention the always captivating Tommy Shaw and thunderous bass sound of Ricky Phillips. All this performance power combined in one band made for a very memorable evening.

All three bands gave top-notch performances on this beautiful night by the lake with plenty of singing and swaying making for great concert experience. This is definitely a show I will be talking about for some time and I highly recommend checking out these veterans when they come to your town.

Tesla Set List:
1.) I Wanna Live
2.) Hang Tough
3.) Heavens Trail (No Way Out)
4.) What You Give
5.) Signs
6.) Love Song
7.) Little Suzi
8.) Modern Day Cowboy

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Set List:
1.) Bad Reputation
2.) Cherry Bomb
3.) Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
4.) Victim of Circumstance
5.) Soulmates To Strangers
6.) You Drive Me Wild
7.) Light of Day
8.) Fake Friends
9.) Love Is Pain
10.) A Hundred Feet Away
11.) Fresh Start
12.) Love Is All Around
13.) I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll
14.) Crimson and Clover
15.) I Hate Myself For Loving You
16.) Everyday People

Styx Set List:
1.) Overture
2.) Gone Gone Gone
3.) Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
4.) The Grand Illusion
5.) Lady
6.) Ms. America
7.) Radio Silence
8.) Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
9.) Too Much Time On My Hands
10.) Khedive
11.) Bohemian Rhapsody
12.) Come Sail Away
13.) Mr. Roboto
14.) Renegade

Imaginext Designer Rob Hageman Discusses Exlcusive NY Comic Con Bat-Bot Xtreme

New York Comic Con has become the premier East-Coast destination for all things pop culture and 2017 was no different. New to the convention floor this year was Fisher Price’s Imaginext toy  line which features a wide variety of multi-faceted play sets, figures and vehicles taken from the pages of the DC universe. As an exclusive for this year’s convention Imaginext creators brought a special themed version of their DC Bat-Bot Xtreme for a lucky few to purchase. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with designer Rob Hageman about the piece as well as what the brand has in store for this year’s holiday season.

Ian Lawton: How did you come up with the original idea for the original DC Bat-Bot Xtreme?

Rob Hageman: We actually started off by making a smaller version of the toy. It had all the same workable features and everything but when we got it all done we realized it would be cooler if we made it a lot bigger. The smaller version was great but once kids got a hold of the larger version that’s the one that everyone really enjoyed.

IL: Can you tell us about some of the feature on the Bat-Bot Xtreme?

RH: I think the best feature is when you turn one of the action discs as it opens up the wings of the robot. Once you do that you have access to the punching power triggers on each hand. You can also fire discs out of the fists as you punch. Across the top are a number of buttons which shoot several rockets. On the opposite foot of the robot is another action disc which opens up the chest of the robot to reveal an elevator which takes figures up into the head of the robot. Also featured is a voice changer which allows you to talk into the back of the toy and transform your voice in to that of a robot. There is a hidden bat cycle in one foot of the robot which can be shot out while the other foot features a jail for locking up any bad guys.

IL: The Comic Con version of the Bat-Bot Xtreme is different from the one in stores. Can you tell us about that?

RH: There is a comic book version of this robot that is much more metallic than the retail one. The retail one is still super cool but it’s done in standard blue plastic where the 300 we did for Comic Con have a special blue metallic paint job that is closer to what is seen in the comic. With this special version I really was trying to make sure it looked as close to the one pictured in the book. The exclusive version also comes with in special packaging featuring some really great art work, magnetic switches and LED lights.

IL: How do you decide which characters you are going to make into a figure?

RH: Each year all the designers get together and draw a bunch of concepts. We will take them to the team and give them our best pitches for each one. From there we work as a team to finalize designs and figure out which look the best, are the most relevant and will help Imaginext flush out the DC Universe.

IL: What other characters/figures are you set to release?

RH: We have Mongul and Green Lantern set to come out along with Black Canary and Night Wing around Christmas time. Also set to come is Steppenwolf as well as Swamp Thing and Survivor Batman. I think that’s probably one of our best packs we have done so far.

IL: How would someone go about becoming a toy designer?

Designer Rob Hageman and Media Mikes Ian Lawton

RH: When I was a kid I loved to draw and it was something I always did. I would draw my toys along with other toys I may have wanted. I also drew a lot of robots as I love robots. When I got to high school a teacher of mine had a friend of his who worked for a toy company come to class. He brought in all the things he had worked on and told us it was his job to make toys. I knew then it was something I wanted to do. I kept drawing more and more and after high school I went to art school and focused on toy design. I am now doing what I wanted to do ever since high school.

IL: What has been your favorite toy that you have created/worked on?

RH: My favorite is the regular Bat-Bot which transforms from a tank to a robot. It was an uphill battle for me to sell that in as I wanted the transformation to be able to happen while the toy was still in the package. I wanted there to be two different forms while making things easy to maneuver and play with. The voice on it is really great as well.

Concert Review: “Mockstrosity Tour” Syracuse, NY

“Mockstrosity Tour”
Mac Sabbath, Metalachi, Okilly Dokilly
Friday, March 24, 2017
The Westcott Theater, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Mac Sabbath frontman, Ronald Osbourne, summed up the Mockstrosity Tour best, shouting “Good luck describing this show to your friends!” A night of heavy music and big laughs was served up by perhaps three of the more unique parody bands in the business today. The classic Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY was rocked by the likes of Phoenix Arizona’s Ned Flanders themed metalcore act Okilly Dokilly, Metalachi the self proclaimed world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band and rounding out the night’s lineup Los Angeles Mac Sabbath, picture Black Sabbath dosed in radioactive ketchup and mustard from the world’s favorite fast food chain.

Okilly Dokilly ripped through their “Nedal” (Ned-metal) crowd pleasers like “White Wine Spritzer” and “Nothing At All” which paved the way for the bands call to arms of all left-handed neighborinos for the song “All That Is Left”. Each member donned Mr. Flanders signature garb which added to the bands show allowing those in attendance to envision good ol’ Ned bellowing out vicious metal growls like no other in the Springfield zip code. Metalachi garnered a lot of attention with their mariachi flared renditions of classic hard rock and heavy metal jams, donning what can only be described as mariachi meets hair metal attire. The band crushed through classics like “Holy Diver” and “Raining Blood,” but really showed their talents with surprises like “Santeria” and the infamous “More Than Words,” during which the band invited a fan up on the stage to aid in the more romantic, bump and grind, portion of their set while violinista, Queen Kyla Vera stole the show shredding through solo after solo with every bit of intensity as a well-seasoned axe man.

The Mockstrosity would come to an end only after Mac Sabbath had their turn at the crowd of eager fans. The band’s sound was tight and their stage presence hilarious. The lighting and pyrotechnics further accentuated the group’s costumes and props, which were not limited by any means. The members of Sabbath had a good time with their stage banter between songs like “Frying Pan” and “Sweet Beef,” and at one point Ronald Osbourne himself was funneling PBR through a gigantic red, yellow, and white straw. Sabbath played on their strengths well, and did not seem to be too gimmicky, really backing up their act with musical talent and their performance. Overall, the night was a blast, and anyone looking for a great time needs to check out this tour when it rolls into town.

Concert Review: Kings of Chaos, Verona, NY

“Kings of Chaos”
Kings of Chaos, Franky Perez
Thursday, December 22th 2016
Turning Stone, Verona, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Rock’s Ultimate Super group Kings of Chaos made a rare appearance in the Upstate New York area on December 22 where they performed for an intimate crowd within the Turning Stone Casino. The group consisting of Matt Sorum, Chester Bennington, Robin Zander, Billy Duffy, Robert DeLeo, Steve Stevens and Billy Gibbons performed a variety of hits from each of the member’s careers making for a unique concert experience.

Opening up the night was Apocalyptica front man Franky Perez who along with his solo band performed a blend of rock infused blues that helped set the tone for the night. Though the crowd was a bit slow to respond Perez and company forged on and by the end of their forty minute set had the crowd primed and ready for the night’s headliner. After a minimal set change the night’s headliner hit the stage running as they launched into Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline”. With Linkin Park/STP vocalist Chester Bennington at the helm the band also performed Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and The Cult’s “Fire Woman”. Bennington would then make way for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Robin Zander to perform a handful of Cheap Trick songs which were then followed by a few ZZ Top songs song by none other than the one and only Billy Gibbons who’s gravelly voice permeated every nook and cranny of the venue. Zander, Bennington and Gibbons would alternate in the lead vocalist spot throughout the night as they performed hit after hit from each of the members groups culminating with all of the members performing at the end of the night on “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”, “Going Down” and the Led Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta love”.

Though the nights set was absent of any Linkin Park or Guns N’ Roses numbers there certainly was still a solid mixture of songs pulled from the members impressive back catalogs. Each player looked to be performing at their best making it very hard to pick out one performance over another. Everyone definitely brought their A game and appeared to be working very well together despite minimal interactions with one another. Getting to see just one of the members in this group let alone seven is sure to bring a nights worth of entertainment but when the Kings of Chaos are all together in one spot it truly is a special occasion and one you won’t want to miss.

Kings of Chaos Set list:
1.) Vasoline
2.) White Wedding
3.) Fire Woman
4.) Hello There
5.) Surrender
6.) I Want You to Want Me
7.) Waitin’ For the Bus
8.) Sharp Dressed Man
9.) Tush
10.) The Flame
11.) Edie (Ciao Baby)
12.) Interstate Love Song
13.) Jesus Just Left Chicago
14.) Ace of Spades
15.) Sex Type Thing
16.) Love Removal Machine
17.) Rebel Yell
18.) Dream Police
19.) La Grange
20.) Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
21.) Going Down
22.) Whole Lotta love

 

New Jersey Kiss Expo takes over Somerset, NY on Sunday, October 9th 2016

New Jersey Kiss Expo takes over Somerset, NY on Sunday, October 9th 2016
Tickets on sale now.

One of the longest running and largest Kiss fan expo’s in the world returns this year to the Somerset/Bridgewater Hotel (formerly the Crowne Plaza) in Somerset, NJ. On Sunday October 9th 2016 the rooms and halls of the hotel will be ALIVE with all things KISS! From endless tables of collectibles and rarities to a star studded list of celebrities including current Kiss drummer Eric Singer and former Kiss/current Grand Funk guitarist Bruce Kulick. There will plenty of other events also happing through out the day making this year’s expo the must see event for Kiss fans of all ages.

For tickets and complete event info visit: www.njkissexpo.com

Tagslyvania in Big Flats, NY returns for its 7th season

Tagsylvania in Big Flats, NY returns for its 7th season

The ghoulish residents who reside in the mysterious fog covering the sprawling grounds of Tag’s in Big Flats, NY came alive for their 7th fright filled season on Friday September 23rd.
Included in Haunted Attraction Magazines top 31 must see haunts Tagsylvania is bigger and better than ever for the 2016 scaring season. Along with the haunts staple attractions “Jerkus Circus” an over the top nightmare inducing 3-D journey through a circus gone terribly wrong, “Lecter’s Lair” a multi floor adventure which put you face to face with some of your deepest and darkest fears and “Psycho Swamp” a twisting and turning maze which holds you captive by your creepy surroundings.

Along with several upgrades to the haunts existing attractions is the newest member of the family “Escape the Precinct”. You and the members of your group are wrongfully accused of multiple murders and are being detained for questioning. In the Precinct are the items you will need to collect to prove your innocence and possibly reveal the actual person who committed the murders. You have 60 minutes to uncover the clues, solve the puzzles and collect enough evidence to gain your freedom. If one of these terrifying adventures isn’t for you haunt manager Jesse Reib says Tagsylvania has plenty of other things to offer including carnival games, concessions, psychic and tarot card readings along with a few other surprises that will keep you on your toes during your visit to Tagsylvania.

Tagsylvania is open at 7pm on Friday’s and Saturdays starting September 23rd and runs through October 29th.

For more info visit http://tagsylvania.com/

 

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Concert Review: Vans Warped Tour 2016, Syracuse, NY

Vans Warped Tour 2016

Date: July 7, 2016
Venue: New York State Fair Grounds, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The Vans Warped tour made a stop in Syracuse, NY on July 7th for what proved to be a great day of music and fun. Despite foreboding clouds which hovered over the event site earlier in the day the power of punk rock could not be stopped as once the music kicked off the negative weather took a quick turn towards the positive allowing everyone to stay dry and soak up some rays while listening to this year’s assembled line up.

For over 20 summers now the Vans Warped tour has been the go to for traveling one day festivals featuring alternative and punk rock music. This year despite sporting a thinned down roster, less stages and fewer activities the festival still proved to be just as good if not better than years past. The Syracuse venue featured a great lay out with side by staging for the 6 main stages and a 7th smaller stage was only a short distance from all the bigger action. Each stage offered plenty of viewing space, merch areas and facilities, there was even a massive shaded pavilion area which gave fans a place to escape the sun in between acts. Aside from waiting to get into the venue there were really no other lines to speak of throughout the day which again only added to the events over all appeal. Even the free water filling station which always seems to be a hot bed of action was easy and quick to access. This year’s lineup was a great mixture of up and coming bands infused with some of Warped tours biggest veterans. As the day started out bands like Teenage Bottle Rocket, Masked Intruder and Vanna would put on stellar performances which fit in perfectly between bombastic sets from Warped tour regulars Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and New Found Glory. Other notable performances from the day included those by State Champs complete with inflatable waving men and bubbles, Old Wounds who in my opinion dominated the Full Sail Stage, The Interrupters who despite playing later in the day were able to keep the energy going as temperatures pushed towards the 90’s. To cap off an already impressive day the closing set of the festival belonged to Sum 41 who bashed out hit after hit to the massive crowd.

Despite a scaled down lineup and production this year I felt that Warped Tour 2016 was better than ever. Sure having a bunch of stuff to do in between acts is fun and all but, when you go to a rock show you are going essentially for the music. That was clearly the focus for this year’s tour as you couldn’t have asked for a more stellar line up. Aside from the extremely long lines to get into the venue the day was a lot of fun and we heard a lot of really great music. The tour runs through August 13th so be sure to grab tickets for one of the shows closest to you. You won’t be disappointed.

Line Up:
Against the Current, Assuming We Survive, Avion Roe, Bad Seed Rising, Ballyhoo!, Broadside, Cane Hill, Chelsea Grin, Chunk! No, Captian Chunk!, Coldrain, Crown the Empire, Cruel Hand, Dash|Ten, Emarosa, Every Time I Die, Falling In Reverse, Four Year Strong, From Ashes To New, Ghost Town, Gideon, Hail the Sun, I See Stars, Ice Nine Kills, In Hearts Wake, Issues, Knuckle Puck, Less Than Jake, Like Pacific, Masked Intruder, Mayday Parade, Mother Feather, Motionless In White, New Found Glory, Oceans Ate Alaska, Old Wounds, Palaye Royale, Pepper, Real Friends, Reckless Serenade, Reel Big Fish, Roam, Safe To Say, Secrets, Set It Off, Silent Planet, Sleeping With Sirens, State Champs, Sum 41, Sykes, Teenage BottleRocket, The Color Morale, The Heirs, The Interrupters, The Maine, The Story So Far, The Word Alive, Tonight Alive, Too Close to Touch, Vanna, Veil of Maya, Volumes, Wage War, Waterparks, We the Kings, Whitechapel, With Confidence, Yellowcard, Young Guns

All photos are copy written and cannot be used without permission

 

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Concert Review: “Rock N’ Derby” Schaghticoke, NY

Rock N’ Derby
May 20th-May 22nd 2016
Schaghticoke Fairgrounds, Shaghticoke, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Upstate New York came alive on May 20th- 22nd as it hosted the inaugural “Rock N’ Derby” festival in the humble town of Shaghticoke, NY. Despite only being in its infancy the three day event offered a sprawling layout and variety of activities from professional wrestling and demolition derby’s to performances by some of today’s biggest artists including Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb of God, Halestorm, Shinedown and Megadeth.

With more and more multi-day festival popping up around the country it’s hard to figure out which ones are the real deal and which ones are merely just jumping on the band wagon. I am here to tell you that “Rock N’ Derby” is in fact the real deal. Despite being in a rather remote location which require traveling a variety of back roads the 3 day festival was easily one of the most enjoyable concert going experiences I have had. The festival offered plenty of room to move around, ample vendors and facilities including three well placed stages that didn’t require a lot of walking back and forth. To top it off the sound at all three stages was top notch the entire weekend. Though we weren’t able to be on hand for the events first day we talked with plenty of people in attendance who stated that the day’s events were highlighted by some killer performances including those by Lamb of God, Clutch and Five Finger Death Punch. Knowing all of those bands bring incredible live shows I’m sure they set the bar for the rest of the weekend. The main stages for day two of the event kicked off around 2pm with an intense set by the Ohio metal-core band Miss May I. Vocalist Levy Benton and company did an impressive job early in the day setting the standard for those who followed. As we bounced back and forth between the two main stages (the Derby Stage and the Rock Stage) we caught some really great performances by acts such as All That Remains, Chevy Metal featuring Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters and as the day shifted to night Halestorm who put on an impressive set which included a full scale demolition derby taking place in the near fore ground. Closing out the night on the Derby Stage was the always energetic A Day to Remember. The band hit the stage with bursts of giant multi colored confetti and dozens of beach balls which bounced between the stage and crowd. The band sounded great and was very fun to watch as they played to one of the larger crowds of the day. Closing out things on the Rock Stage were thrash legends Anthrax. The NY natives also played before a very large crowd as they shredded through some of their classic back catalog which included songs like “Antisocial”, “Got the Time” before ending the night with “Caught in a Mosh”.

The main stages on the third and final day of the festival started up around 3pm with the hard hitting Trivium commandeering the Derby stage for an hour long set which helped re-energize the crowd from the previous day’s undertakings. Shortly after the opening of the Derby Stage the Rock Stage would be opened by none other than Dokken. Though only Don Dokken and Mick Brown remain from the bands classic eighties line up newer members guitarist Jon Levin and bassist Chris McCarvill handled their duties with ease as the band performed their hour long set. Aside from the days headliners the biggest talk around the grounds on Sunday was the performance of Ghost. The masked Swedish occult themed metal band played an incredible set that not only excited the festival crowd but also conjured up a wind and rain squall that added a different element to the bands theatrical performance. With the weather subsiding shortly after Ghost left the Derby Stage Nikki Sixx and Sixx A.M. got things going on the Rock Stage performing to a slightly dampened crowd. For me the performance matched the poor weather as they were one of the only acts over the three days that didn’t sound good. Sixx’s bass dominated the mix making the rest of the band barely audible and sent us back to the Derby Stage quicker than expected. Coheed and Cambria would take the Derby stage around 7pm putting on a stellar performance. The band was extremely tight making their intricate songs sound as good if not better than the studio recordings. It was great to finally here songs like “The Hardsell” and “A Favor House Atlantic” live as I had up until this day been unable to catch the band live. Needless to say they did not let me down. As the festival slowly started to come to a close Megadeth would be the last artist to take the Rock Stage where despite finding out about the passing of long time band member Nick Menza only a few hours before the group performed like true professionals. Mustain and his crew played a mixture of new and older material including “Hangar 18” and “The Threat is Real” prior to pausing and taking a few somber moments to recognize Nick’s passing. After a heartfelt moment of silence the band closed out the night and the stage with three of their more popular songs “Symphony of Destruction”, “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”.

While Shinedown was still holding court on the Derby Stage we made our way through the various camping locations and parking lots. Despite the large number of people at the festival things still remained uncluttered and in control. Festival goers moved freely out of the gates as did cars out of the lots. This was something I could greatly appreciate as anyone who has been to a concert of this size knows getting in and out can be one of the worst experiences ever. From our stand point “Rock N’ Derby” was a really fun and well organized event. Great acts, great vendors and a sizeable venue with ample facilities made the entire experience enjoyable and something we hope becomes an annual event.

Festival Line Up:

Friday, May 20th, 2016
Five Finger Death Punch, Lamb of God, Clutch, Parkway Drive, Wolfmother, Pop Evil, Scott Stapp, Corrosion of Conformity,        Red Sun Rising, Wild Throne, Schism

Saturday, May 21st, 2016
A Day To Remember, Halestorm, Anthrax, Chevy Metal, Hollywood Undead, Extreme, State Champs
Sebastian Bach, Bear Tooth, Memphis May Fire, We Came As Romans, All That Remains, Avatar,
Thy Art Is Murder, Stray From The Path, For Today, Cliver, Rings of Saturn

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
Shinedown, Coheed and Cambria, Megadeth, Sixx A.M., Ghost, Collective Soul, Sevendust, Dokken, Trivium, Enter Shikari,         Born of Osiris, Like A Storm, Currents, Bad Case of Big Mouth

(All photos are Copyrighted and cannot be used without permission)

 

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Concert Review: Wizards of Winter “The Magic of Winter” – Syracuse, NY

“The Magic of Winter”
Wizards of Winter
Date: Sunday, December 27th 2015
Venue: The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater
Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The Tri-State area based Wizard of Winter brought their own unique brand of holiday cheer to the Syracuse, NY area on December 27th as part of the group’s 2015 “Magic of Winter” tour. The night proved to be a great extension of the Christmas holiday as the night’s performance took you on a magical music adventure which made for a very enjoyable concert experience.

With this being the groups first time in Syracuse anticipation was certainly high as concert goers filled in the seats at the multi tiered Crouse Hinds Theater. The show began promptly at 8pm as the band kicked off their impressive 26 song performance with a song from their debut album “The Magic of Winter” titled “Flight of the Snow Angels”, a fitting opening number which set the stage perfectly for the rest of the night’s performance. Former Trans-Siberian Orchestra narrator Tony Gaynor would take the stage several times painting a vivid picture of the upcoming number which helped those in attendance sink deeper into the spirit of the night’s performance though, I personally found these moments (which also included a 15 minute intermission) to sort of halt the night’s momentum as it seemed like the band would no sooner start to get in a groove only to have it broken up by brief pieces of commentary. All of the members of the group put on stellar performances including several standout moments by former Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Guy LeMonnier, Violin/Vocalist Natalia Niarezka and lead guitarist Fred Gorhau who blazed his way through intricate solo after solo without missing a beat. Songs such as “Ebeneezer” Savatage’s “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”, “Season’s Lament” and the upbeat “Gales of December” sounded really great as they made their way into every nook and cranny of the theater prolonging the Christmas holiday just a touch longer.

As the night’s performance came to a close the Syracuse crowd seemed pleased with the show they had just witnessed. As the band left the stage the crowd thanked the performers with a heavy blanket of applause which the performers seemed very appreciative of. With such a good response from the groups Syracuse debut my hope is they continue to make stops in Orangeman country for many more holiday season to come.

Set List:
1.) Flight of the Snow Angels
2.) Magic of Winter
3.) Arctic Flyer
4.) Special Feeling
5.) First Snow (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
6.) A Night of Reflection
7.) Sing Alleluia/ 3 Ships
8.) Once Long Ago
9.) 3 Kings
10.) Nutrocker (Electric Light Orchestra cover)
11.) Ebeneezer
12.) Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Savatage cover)
13.) March of the Metal Soldiers
14.) Season’s Lament
15.) Just Believe
16.) Gales of December
17.) Whoville
18.) Waken to the Sound
19.) Toys will be Toys
20.) The Journey
21.) Queen of the Winter Night (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
22.) Electric Blue (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
23.) Little Help (Joe Cocker cover)
24.) Spirit of Christmas
25.) Requiem (Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover)
26.) With One Voice